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Comdata has set up a new operation in Hungary, in response to client demand. The Group has started the process of onboarding around staff and setting up a new hub in Budapest, ready to be fully operational for clients in August 2021. 

The expansion in Central Europe comes at the request of a well-known European-US multinational business, which asked Comdata to provide its customer care services in Hungary. 

From this springboard, Comdata Hungary plans to support clients across a full range of sectors, handling the full spectrum of customer management processes from sales to customer care to technical support to debt collection.

Overseeing the launch in Hungary is the Comdata team in Czech Republic, so we spoke to Jan Nedělník, CEO of Comdata Czech Republic, about Comdata’s plans and ambitions in Hungary and Central Europe, and the challenges of opening a greenfield operation in the midst of the pandemic. 

Firstly, Jan, can you tell us some more details of the launch in Hungary?

Jan: The initial plan is to have about 60 Comdata specialists in Budapest supporting our multinational client, and we are already onboarding the first group of new hires. 

We will onboard, induct and train the full team over the coming months, with everyone ready to go in August providing seven-day support through all the channels: voice, calls, email and social media, in Hungarian and English.

Managing and supporting the process is the Comdata team in Czech Republic; as you can tell from the above, we are moving at pace on this!

Has Covid-19 affected the set-up?

Jan: Yes, very much. Virtually everything has had to be done remotely – for example, we had to find and choose our new office space in Budapest via video.

Because of the Covid-19 situation in Hungary, all our staff will initially work at home, and training and induction will be provided remotely. Two years ago, I would have said it was impossible to set up in a new country remotely, but now we know differently. We’ve already done training and onboarding very successfully in other countries over the past year, so we know how to do this effectively.

Our new office in Budapest will be ready in June, and once it is safe for people to work in the office, we envisage a mix of approximately 50-50 home-working and office-working. As in all our locations, home-working will be through our Comdata SmartHub remote operating model.

Why has Comdata chosen Hungary for its new launch?

Jan: Partly because our client, a major multinational European-US business, asked us to! 

We already have a strong relationship with the client in Czech Republic; they know our ability to deliver effective customer care, strong customer experiences and value creation, and they wanted us to do the same for them in this new market. 

Was that the only reason?

Jan: No, that’s just one part of the picture. Setting up Comdata Hungary is a strategic opportunity for us to strengthen our presence in Central Europe. We see good opportunities to develop customer management BPO and use our expertise to support brands in Hungary.

Many of our clients have a cluster of operations across different countries in the region, and it’s powerful to offer them both Czech and Hungarian locations and languages. This will certainly extend what they can do in terms of managing their customer interactions and relationships effectively, and maximising long-term customer value.

And then also, we see Hungary, and Budapest specifically, as a very attractive place for a hub, because it’s a popular place to live and work, including for expats. We know it’s popular with Spanish speakers, and there are very strong levels of English and German. This creates the option for Comdata Hungary to build multilingual, multicultural teams, as well as Hungarian-speaking teams. 

How would you describe Comdata’s plans in Hungary, short-term and longer-term?

Jan: Our ambition is to become a leader in BPO in the Hungarian market, just as we already are in Czech Republic.

In the immediate term, as well as onboarding the team for the initial client, we are in discussions with other clients, and will expand our portfolio. Our strategy is to build on our expertise and experience in our existing geographies, and support clients across all the sectors where we already specialize, such as retail, logistics, banking, insurance, utilities, public sector, and others. 

And of course, as in Czech Republic and in other countries, we can support these sectors with all their customer management processes – sales, customer care, technical support, credit collection. And we will be able to help them with other tailored services and solutions  – technology innovation, speech analytics, front office, back office etc. 

It sounds like developing the new team in Hungary will be crucial to your plans?

Jan: Absolutely. Across the Group, we have people who are passionate about representing our client brands and understanding their customers, and this is what we want to create in Hungary too.  We offer our clients everywhere the best blend of people, process and technology, and the way we train and treat our people reflects this.

In Hungary, we will follow a similar onboarding model to the one we already do successfully in the Czech market – training and upskilling people in our processes, our technology, our values, in soft skills and much more, using a variety of training approaches such as virtual classrooms, e-learning, practice scenarios, gamification etc. 

You mentioned that Comdata Czech is managing and supporting the launch in Hungary. Can you tell us any other recent developments for the team in Czech Republic?

Jan: Well, you know we’re always busy at Comdata. One important recent story in Czech Republic is our support for the government and Czech citizens during the Covid-19 crisis. We have helped the Czech government manage various phonelines during 2020 and 2021, including the Czech 112 emergency services line, the National Coronavirus Line, and an information line for small businesses on Covid-19 financial support.

Currently, we have around 100 specialist agents handling inbound calls about the vaccine and vaccination appointments. We’re very pleased and proud that we’ve been able to support the country during the pandemic. We recently did a webinar on this work with ABSL, so if you want to know more about the challenges, numbers and learning points involved, you can watch it here.

Thank you, Jan, for telling us about this and about Comdata Hungary. It’s fantastic to hear about Comdata’s growing presence in Central Europe, and we wish you well.

Jan: Thank you. I look forward to reporting back to you on our roll-out in Hungary, and other future news and achievements from the region.

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